Sunday, February 5, 2012

Felting Rocks

When I saw the tutorial back in November on the Living Crafts blog on creating felted rainbow rocks, I just knew that I wanted to try this with my Camp Fire group some day.  They are just so beautiful.

Last month was the perfect time.  Every year Camp Fire holds an art competition with a different theme each year.  This year the theme is fiber.  So, felting is perfect for them!
A number of years ago my mother taught spinning at Greenfield Village.  She has three beautiful spinning wheels hiding out in the attic!  She still has a very large quantity of wool fleece, so I didn't need to buy any roving.  However, all the fleece was gray and tan - so if the kids were going to make colorful rocks I needed to do some wool dying.
Before I could do any dying, I needed to wash the fleece.  It still had hay, dirt, and sticks in it.  Since I know absolutely nothing about cleaning wool fleece I turned to Google to help me find some tutorials on washing.  There are a number of tutorials out there.  I ended up washing the fleece, after picking out the big pieces of hay and sticks, in the kitchen sink with shampoo. 
Thankfully it was a fairly sunny day with minimal wind, so I took my drying rack outside and hung the soggy fleece out to dry. 

I then took over the kitchen and got to work dying most of the fleece. This time drying in the bathtub.

I used 4 different types of fabric dye - powdered Rit, liquid Rit, Jacquard iDye and Dylon. Because out group is made up of mostly girls I did way more pinks and purples. I also left some fleece natural colors so they could use it as the outside of their rocks.

I will say that the Jacquard and Dylon dyes worked much better then the RIT.

The washing and dying process took me the better part of an entire day!

Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of they felting process. The tutorial on Living Crafts has a lot of great pictures on the process, which is pretty simple. You start with a small ball of roving and continually wrap different colors of roving around the center until you get a wad of wool about the size of an orange or even grapefruit.

You then use soapy warm water and start the LONG process of felting up the rock. We tried it at home the day before out meeting and it took us a good 30 minutes of working the ball to get it felted. The kids lost interest in about 10 minutes! In the end the we directed the kids to take their balls home and stuff them in an old sock, then wash it on hot in the washing machine. We tried this with Ran's and it worked great!
The best part is cutting it open to see you creation!

Here are two made using brighter colored roving. 
The entire process was a lot of work, but worth it.